MANAGEMENT at the Chinese-run Chambishi NFCA has terminated the contracts of all 18 miners facing charges of riotously damaging buildings at the mine.
Speaking in an interview, the miners wondered why management had terminated their contracts before the matter was settled in court.
The miners complained they were being treated like criminals even though under Zambian law, a person was presumed innocent until proven guilty by the courts.
“And even the manner in which they brought the letters of termination was very surprising. They came with armed police officers in riot gear just to give us those letters,” one of the miners said. “The conduct of the police is very unprofessional and it is like the Chinese are a court in their own capacity.”
The miners said they and their families were shaken and afraid when they saw armed police officers in riot gear at their homes.
They also said they would take legal action against the NFCA management because their dismissal was prejudicial and unprocedural.
“They never charged us, they never called us to discuss anything; there was no verbal or written warning. They think that just because we were arrested and taken to court, they can fire us like that,” another miner said. “They should have waited for the case to be concluded in court because it’s up to the court to decide whether we are guilty or not.”
The termination letters, dated February 25, signed by Cheng Zhigang, NFCA human resources manager, state that the miners’ contracts would be terminated with effect from March 25.
“Further, you will be required to surrender all company property in your possession before you collect your terminal benefits if any,” the letter reads in part.